Minnesota to Replace Aging Election Equipment by 2018

Technology grows at a rapid pace in today’s increasingly connected society. The computers we used in 2002 seem nearly fossil-like in comparison to 2017’s array of computing tablets, laptops, desktops, and smartphones. The same holds true for the election equipment we used in 2002, and Minnesota recognizes the need to upgrade.

Minnesota has recently enacted grants to update and replace the state’s increasingly outdated election equipment. Following the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which provided funding to replace outdated and faulty voting equipment, Minnesota updated their election equipment. While that was certainly a positive for the state in 2002, it has now been fifteen years since an equipment update. Coincidentally, Minnesota’s current voting equipment has a lifespan of approximately ten to fifteen years. The new bill makes significant strides in replacing the equipment as it quickly moves toward obsolescence.

The Omnibus elections bill grants $7 million to “address precinct-based optical scan voting equipment, assistive voting technology, automatic tabulating equipment, and electronic roster equipment” by 2018. The Minnesotan government will use the $7 million grant fund to aid counties in replacing mandatory equipment—a top priority for the state, which will likely have new or updated equipment within a year. It is expected to cost a total of $28 million to replace the entirety of the equipment throughout the state.

Old election equipment may prove to be a pressing problem for states across the country in the upcoming years. States that have not updated their equipment since 2002 may find their machines difficult to repair and fickle as voting technology moves forward. Minnesota hopes to drive ahead of this curve and ensure the reliability of their machines for the upcoming elections.